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The Battle of Bears Paw

The Battle of Bears Paw

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The Battle of Bears Paw

U.S. 2, MP 403, Chinook

This battle was fought September 30 to October 5, 1877, on Snake Creek, about 20 miles south of here near the Bears Paw Mountains, where after a five days’ siege Chief Joseph, one of five remaining Nez Perce leaders, surrendered to Col. Nelson A. Miles of the U.S. Army.

The usual forked‑tongue methods of the whites, which had deprived these Indians of their hereditary lands, caused Joseph and six other primary chiefs to lead their people on a tortuous 2000 mile march from their home in Idaho to evade U.S. troops and gain sanctuary in Canada.

These great Indian generals fought against fearful odds. They and their warriors could have escaped by abandoning their women, children and wounded. They refused to do this.

Joseph’s courage and care for his people were admired by Col. Miles who promised him safe return to Idaho. One of the blackest records in our dealings with the Indians was the Government’s repudiation of this promise and the subsequent treatment accorded Joseph and his followers.

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